You know what Chicago needs more of? Home-grown metal. Enter The Dead Seeds, and you can see them at House of Blues this Sunday, September 4.
Lead singer Daniel Huerta’s high pitch vocals immediately make you think of the golden era of rock/metal. Think Judas Priest. Carter Scofield knows how to rip it up on lead guitar, while Solomon Kimrey on bass and Griffin Shaw on drums round out a tight crew with big-game chops. This is a sound we’re very pleased to hear in town. And it this rate–they are young–they are going to go places far beyond the Windy City.
But if you’re thinking it’s all just noise, you’d be mistaken. There’s some interesting depth to The Dead Seeds that you can hear in their latest EP, Hereafter. In the title track, “Hereafter”, you can almost hear a little Clash with some of those catchy, riffy guitar licks. Then, “Firestorm” heads back into the metal territory we all crave.
Have a listen, below, or on The Dead Seeds bandcamp page. And get to House of Blues on Sunday. It’s a long weekend—you can headbang all night long.
Arclight is a new Chicago band that just released it’s first EP and is starting to air it out around town. Recently they played Schuba’s, which is always a good sign for the future of a new band.
Arclight is Amith Bokka (vox/guitar/keys), Jim Tashjian (guitar), Charles Williams (vox/bass), and Pete Tashjian (drums). The official description is “Alternative Rock.” But I think that’s a bit too boxy for what they really are.
That sound is… dreamy. Relaxing, sometimes, and a bit unsettling at others. Remember when the mid to late 90’s produced those peaceful yet dark tones—like The Smashing Pumpkins’ overlooked album, Adore? Arclight makes me think of those days. A little psychedelic, a little pop, and a bunch of deep undertones that weave together to make song transitions often indistinguishable. I mean that in a good way.
You’ll hear the peaceful part in “Songbird”, embedded below. Dig into the EP and you’ll come across “Jester” which ventures into more sinister territory (but with a redeeming finish). What I’m really excited about for Arclight is the direction they are going. It’s not typical of what we’ve been hearing lately.
Overall, it’s a very promising debut for Arclight, and a welcome curveball to the Chicago music scene. I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow. You can see them August 27 at the Estate block party, 1177 N Elston Ave.
What’s wrong with a little Americana? Some honest folk and roll?
What’s wrong with something relatively simple—strong hooks, great lyrics and heartfelt vocals?
What’s wrong with all of this coming from Boston and landing in Chicago?
Absolutely nothing—that’s what’s wrong with all of that.
A Whisper, A Shout is the debut album from Minor Moon, a project led by Samuel Cantor.
(Hear a song below.)
Cantor clearly understands his craft. He’s writing with earned wisdom. Singing with a voice powerful but reserved. And best of all, he’s put everything into it—that comes through in spades. This is a fantastic debut record. The kind that grabs your attention and promises a bright future.
A Whisper, A Shout has a steadiness to it. A heart-on-the-sleeve feel. Even as a first time listener, it sounds familiar and down-to-earth. These are things that endear musicians to Chicago.
OK, the association game: I hear Band of Horses (Minor Moon’s harmonies are strong). A little Widespread Panic (maybe it’s the vocals). And a smattering of music I’ve heard in bars in North Carolina (I consider that a very good compliment).
Appropriately titled, the album winds its way through quiet, tense meditation to find something stirring—sometimes a shrieking guitar, or rousing vocals—oftentimes in the same song. Sound uneven? Perhaps, at times. That being said, I imagine it plays out beautifully live. And you’ll have your chance on April 7, at Elbo Room. So check it out.
Listen to one of our favorite songs below, and hear more on the Minor Moon website.
A couple other favorite tracks are Futon, and Catch and Release Pt. 1.
After stints with a folk duo, then a bluegrass group, Chaz Hearne decided to go the solo route. And it’s a good thing, because he doesn’t seem to quite fit either of those categories, although his style is extending the boundaries of both.
If that sounds a bit confusing, consider the premise of his debut solo effort, straight from the source himself: “The Legend of Core Dynamo is a political album that tackles some heavy subject matter through the lens of folk songs and comic book characters. Core Dynamo is supposed to stand for an incorruptible leader but people have lost faith in authority.” (It’s appropriate now to mention that Hearne wrote the album while living in Chicago…)
As it turns out, the music is not confusing nor corrupt. It is, however, unconventional. Hearne is learned in guitar, banjo and piano and you will hear all three wielded to great effect, along with vocals that are easy to rally behind.
As far as the tracks go, the song Core Dynamo unmistakably evokes a 60’s/70’s folk movement, while The Legend is neither folk nor bluegrass and includes an anthem-like rock guitar solo. One brings more of the traditional bluegrass feel but, again, leans into something different. Bigger. (There’s even a little Grateful Dead in there.)
Disjointed? Perhaps a little. Hearne seems to be at his best when pushing his folk and bluegrass roots to the edges, without crossing over completely. But ultimately, The Legend of Core Dynamo is everything a solo album should be—a one-of-a-kind composition built on one’s myriad of experiences and influences. And it’s really good.
Michael Downing did something most of us daydream about before going back to typing, turning a wrench, or foaming a latte. He quit his day job to put it all on the line for his music, a solo act called Signal-to-Noise. He shut himself in his Chicago apartment to compose, record and produce his first album, I Won’t Let the World Become a Prison.
“Signal-to-Noise is a reminder to live in the present, look inwards, turn down the noise, and find your signal,” says Downing on his website. As an artist with a wide range, that’s pretty much exactly what he’s doing.
I Won’t Let the World Become a Prison is a search in progress. Self-described as “electro-rock/dream-pop”, Downing layers instruments and his own vocals to create an album that can be soothing one minute and unsettling the next. Sometimes simultaneously. A good example of this is a stretch on the album in songs 4-6—Avenall, Biologic, and Night Owl—a small journey that explores both dream states and anxious energy.
What Downing delivers with I Won’t Let the World Become a Prison deserves our admiration. But, as I’m sure Downing would tell you himself, the music is what matters. There is serious talent on this album—both in pure instrumental skill and composition. We would not be surprised to see Downing’s music get greater attention in the months to come. And any band would be wise to consider an attempt to pry him away from the solo scene.
We love a meticulous musical exploration. Have a listen below. The full album is now available on iTunes, and you can also see an acoustic Signal-to-Noise set on Saturday, May 9 at Chicago Bagel Authority at 6 PM.
Looking for a band to see in Chicago this weekend? The Gnar Wave Rangers will play Abbey Pub this Saturday. And you should gather up a couple friends with open minds and a thirsty disposition, and go see them.
Admittedly, we know very little of The Gnar Wave Rangers aside from two facts: “Gnar” means “Get Nasty and Rich”; and judging by the lineup, these guys are happy to poke fun of themselves and you, too.
The sound is a melting pot of punk, low-fi rock, and funk. Allow me to use a few tracks from their new release, #GetNastyAndRich, as examples.
Crazy 4 Ur Luv reminds me of the delightful and melodic wackiness of Frank Zappa.
Moon Snake is an all-out scream fest.
Freddy Free Me evokes the sounds of your favorite Brit punk.
There is a Light channels The Editors and Psychedelic Furs.
And that’s all within the front half of the new album.
To sum it up, The Gnar Wave Rangers are eclectic, they’re going to f@#% s#!$ up at The Abbey, and you’re going to have fun.